What Does An Ostrich Eat: A Simple Guide

If you want to start your own ostrich farm, there are a number of things you’ll need to consider. One of them is what does an ostrich eat and how to provide the right nutrition to them. This guide should help you.

Wilderness Vs Captivity

wild vs captive ostriches

In the wild, ostriches live in the open plains and in the woodlands alongside animals such as zebras and wildebeests.

In these natural settings, they eat:

  • Small tortoises
  • Flowers
  • Insects
  • Lizards
  • Roots
  • Fruits

In captivity, adult ostriches usually need about 3 pounds of food daily. Feeding is simple. Look for a commercially prepared ostrich or ratite feed.

Ostrich feed comes in several different types designed to provide just the right nutrition for ostriches at different stages of life. This pelleted feed should make up about 80% of your ostriches’ diet.

The remaining 20% should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. Favorites include:

  • Oranges
  • Cabbage
  • Beets

Other fruits and veggies such as carrots can also be fed. No matter what sort of fruit or vegetable you feed, be sure to chop it up. An ostrich can and will swallow a whole fruit or vegetable and this can lead to choking.

Be careful not to overfeed. Just as with any animal, obesity is a health problem.

What Should You Feed Baby Ostriches?

Ostrich chicks should be fed especially prepared starter diet for the first two months of their lives. As they mature, you should switch to a grower diet.

Eventually, your ostrich chicks will need a mature ostrich diet. Consult your veterinarian, and refer to packaging instructions to choose the right feed for your birds.

What Do Baby Ostriches Eat?

Can You Make Your Own Ostrich Feed?

For both chicks and adult ostriches, it’s always best to feed a commercially prepared ostrich diet. If you make mistakes in nutrition, you may end up with ostriches with leg problems. For example excess amounts of phosphorus, calcium or protein can cause severe problems.

Ostriches’ Legs Can Be A Weak Point

To help your chicks develop healthy legs and feet, be sure that their pen space has a level floor. Floors that have uneven surfaces can cause problems with splayed legs and toes.

Lay old carpet, turned upside down, on the floor of your chick enclosure. The smooth surface helps develop strong legs and feet. You may need to seal off the edges of the carpet with heat to prevent your chicks from becoming entangled in stray threads.

Water Carefully

Just as with all types of livestock, you must provide ostriches with water on a consistent basis. Look for specialized ostrich waterers that allow the birds to access the water as needed but that will not allow the water to splash out onto the soil.

If the soil around the water is allowed to become wet, the ostriches will peck at it. This results in too much intake of dirt and sand which will lead to impaction.

Unlike chickens and other common poultry, ostriches do not need to have grit to aid digestion. You can simply feed them commercially prepared pelleted food for ostriches.

In fact, keep them away from sand and grit because an excessive amount of these substances can cause bowel impaction.


  1. https://www.animbiosci.org/upload/pdf/16_115.pdf
  2. https://farmandanimals.com/how-to-raise-ostriches/

6 thoughts on “What Does An Ostrich Eat: A Simple Guide”

  1. I am currently raising chickens in my farm and planning to raise some ostriches. Is it possible to feed the the same foods?

  2. I am a member of a fb site called Ima Survivor donkey and Farm Sanctuary. Lester Morrow is doing his best with his newest rescue Carl. Could you please reach out to him or His wife Jami and give them some guidance? Such as Food and water? They are wonderful people and will welcome your help! They are also on YouTube. Thank-you a fan and follower Deborah Nye

  3. We have 4 adult Emu’s and 2 Ostrich juveniles. We fed the Ostriches special starter food for the first few months and now they eat the same flock feed as the Emus.
    I haven’t bought special Ostrch feed for them since they’ve been over 3ft tall. Is Ostrich feed more expensive? Will typical flock feed be OK for long term or not?


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